Baby’s body in box explained

“We didn’t have money for a coffin” – uncle

13 January 2021 | Local News



The man who appeared in a video holding a box containing the corpse of his sister’s stillborn baby at the Oshikuku Roman Catholic Hospital’s cemetery in Omusati Region said they did not have money for a dignified burial.

Uleinge Whilliam (33) made trended on social media over the weekend when he was recorded by a passer-by holding a box in his hands in the company of his sister Veronicka Michael.

Namibian Sun yesterday traced Whilliam at his work site in Oshikuku for details of what transpired.

He and Michael are born in Namibia but grew up at Amahona village in Angola, he said.

His pregnant sister visited the Onheleiwa clinic in Omusati at the end of December from Angola and was informed that her baby is not moving, he said. She then proceeded to Oshikuku hospital for further medical treatment.

Whilliam said the sister was induced and the baby was stillborn.

Humble burial

“She sent me a message that she gave birth to a stillborn. She then said the nurses said she must ask a family member to come help her bury with someone from the side of the father,” he narrated.

Whilliam said on Saturday, 2 January, he travelled from Onheleiwa to Oshikuku but arrived at around 14h00, which was late as the cemetery was already closed for burials.

They were instructed to return on Monday, 4 January, to carry out the burial.

Whilliam said they told the hospital that they did not have money for a coffin and they were informed that they would be given a box as per the norm for those who find themselves in the same situation.

“The hospital nurse then told me to dig a hole as deep as my knees so the dogs cannot dig out the body. We went to the cemetery and they allocated us space. I dug the hole for about 30 minutes.

“This was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I told myself it’s life and I had to do this and be strong on behalf of my sister who didn’t say a single word the entire time,” he said with tears in his eyes.

After the burial, he gave his sister money to travel back to Angola and returned to work, he said.

Reburial offered

In a statement issued on Monday, health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe said the ministry is willing to, in consultation with the family provided that the necessary order is granted by a court of law as required, exhume the recently buried body of the baby and to provide a dignified reburial for the newborn to reaffirm the sanctity of human life and the Namibian government’s commitment to assist the most vulnerable members of society.

Whilliam, however, said this won’t be necessary.

Nangombe added that the ministry complies with the legal provisions regarding the handling of human remains. Where a family is unable to conduct a funeral, provision is made to conduct what is known as ‘a pauper’s burial’. This is provided for in the bylaws of local authorities.

Meanwhile, Nangombe has requested for assistance from members of the public to help identify the person who recorded and narrated the unfolding event.

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